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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Why is it people (mostly in industrialized societies) always try to rush the baby off the tit?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21725 points ) May 15th, 2010

Why are people (Mostly Western) try to rush the baby off the tit? It seems here in America people are always bringing up why a woman who has a child greater than 18–20 months have not got them on the bottle at least? Kids are not washers with predetermined cycles, just as some will be greatly smarter or athletically inclined than others not all babies will learn to roll over, sit up, pull themselves to their feet, crawl, and walk on cue with all others in baby nation. So why do people think there is some magic cut off date for breastfeeding? Back before we got spoiled with formula, Gerber’s baby food, nice cold refrigerators full of pasteurized vitamin ‘D’ milk, mother’s milk was the only game in town. What did they do back before formula and refrigerators when the kid got to 18 months say “sorry Sparky you can’t have any more from the nipple, try choking down this creamed corn or mashed potatoes”? I think each kid had their own timeline to get off the tit why can’t we adults just be patient to wait it out? What is that harm if it takes a kid 28 or 33 months to move on?

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34 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

So the mommies can rush back to their jobs.

Draconess25's avatar

Because everyone want their kid to be ahead of everyones else’s. It makes the parents look better.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Draconess25 Great Caesar’s ghost! You mean people will equate how quick a kid gets off the nipple to how intelligent he/she is!?!? Wow….....man, wow….....

Draconess25's avatar

No. Just how developed they are in general.

janbb's avatar

No – I really don’t think that’s it. In my experience, more educated mothers tend to nurse longer. I think there is a societal stigma against mothers who nurse toddlers.

lloydbird's avatar

The tit-milk substitute businesses and the persuasive efforts of its (monetary) dependants.

jerv's avatar

I think @Draconess25 has it pretty much right, though I find it odd since it is said that 25 is the new 21.

On the one hand, we expect our kids to be potty-trained, walking, and able to feed themselves by age three, enter them in pageants at age 6, and expect them to graduate college by age 20.

On the other hand, we want them to wait until they are older and older until they do “adult” things like drink, get married. or have sex (that last is a hassle since girls are hitting puberty younger nowadays) so our society really has a double standard when it comes to development.

skfinkel's avatar

Isn’t it a wonderful irony that the longer the babies nurse, the better off they will be health-wise, maybe even brain-wise? Not exactly what those who are rushing the babies off of nursing would have thought.

Seek's avatar

Because this society is so goddamned concerned with breasts as a sexual organ, they’d rather see a woman with gigantic fake tits feeding a squalling baby with a bottle, than see a woman nursing her toddler through teething molars. ((which, by the way, if we had to do as adults, we’d all be on morphine.))

<—has a 21 month old that just weaned. Himself.

Silhouette's avatar

They are terrified this will happen to them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGVfVyyP-Jg

perspicacious's avatar

At 10 months or so, baby can eat many things mushed as well as any soft foods. When the teeth come in, it’s time to wean as far as I’m concerned. Babies get their biggest benefit from breastfeeding in the first few months.

Seek's avatar

waiting with ‘bated breath to see MissAusten’s response

jeanmay's avatar

I agree with @janbb, and just to add, my son went straight to drinking water from a cup once he had weaned himself, aged 11 months. No formula has ever passed his lips. I detect a distinct disdain towards the stuff from most mothers I know.

MissAusten's avatar

Other than @Seek_Kolinahr , how many who have answered this have breastfed?

My experience with many other moms is more like a competition to see who breastfed longest, like there’s some kind of award for nursing for two years or never having to give your baby a bottle of “artificial milk.” I don’t really like that attitude, but whatever the mother’s motivation, it is generally better for the baby.

On the other hand, when my kids were babies I had a lot of pressure from older women in our family, like my mother-in-law and my husband’s aunt, to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. My mother-in-law even asked me, before our daughter was born, why I would bother with nursing. It’s partly a generational thing that American women are still trying to get past. When infant formula was first made widely available, it was aggressively marketed and even touted as being healthier, more sanitary, and far superior to breast milk. It wasn’t until the 1960’s or so that scientists started looking at the differences between breast milk and formula, and even 40 years later there is still this residual stigma with breastfeeding. Not only are breasts primarily seen as sexual, but we live in a convenience-based society and most moms see bottles as more convenient. I found breastfeeding to be far more suited to my lazy tendencies! Working and breastfeeding is hard, especially when you are surrounded by people suggesting you just use bottles, or if you work in a place that is not breast pump friendly. It is doable, however, but experience helps a lot. I didn’t manage well the first time around, but when I had my second child I worked full time and nursed him until he gave it up on his own.

There really isn’t a quick answer to this question because breast feeding rates in the U.S. are affected by many different factors. I think it’s getting better, since most of the moms I know nursed for at least some amount of time. I think @janbb has a good point about education. I know it’s only anecdotal, but the few moms I know who didn’t breastfeed are the ones who didn’t pursue higher education. I also know a couple of women who found the idea of breast feeding repulsive when they had their first child, but after knowing other women who nursed and learning more about it, decided to give it a try the second time around. Hopefully through education more women will breastfeed for at least the first year.

@Seek_Kolinahr Sorry you had to wait so long! I googled “history of infant formula in the us” and spent a lot of time reading and being horrified at the kinds of things people used to give babies in place of breast milk!

Seek's avatar

@MissAusten – thanks for bringing up the Carnation Generation. I know women who were told not to breastfeed their children because their ‘milk was the wrong colour”. Uh, hey Doc, ever heard of colostrum?

MissAusten's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr You know, that brings up another good point. Pediatricians are not necessarily breast feeding experts, even today. Anyone who wants to breast feed but doesn’t have an informed and supportive pediatrician is more likely to be handed a sample of formula when she asks questions or thinks nursing isn’t going well. I remember describing a problem I was having to one of the pediatricians when I was nursing my youngest, and he had no idea what I was talking about. Didn’t know what it was called or how to fix it. I had to call back later to talk to another pediatrician female, also a mom in order to deal with the problem.

My youngest nursed the longest of my three, 15 months. Some of my in-laws were so anti-breastfeeding that I let them believe he’d been fully weaned long before then just to avoid their prying questions!

Adagio's avatar

Personally, I think it has much to do with the circles a woman mixes in, the norm in that society, how determined a woman is, the spoken and unspoken messages a woman perceives/receives… some people are concerned with the body beautiful, others want/need to get back to work, others think that formula is just as good as breast milk anyway and offers no special benefits… I also imagine some women are uncomfortable breast-feeding around others… and last but not least, it may have something to do with status…
(I breast-fed my own child until she was 34 months, at which stage it suited us both to stop… all my friends breast-fed, I think it was simply an expression of a life philosophy that we all more or less shared, some breast-fed for a long time, others a shorter, there was no competition involved, but lots of support and comaraderie.)

jeanmay's avatar

It’s so true about the competitive nature of mums these days, as @MissAusten mentions. I experienced the same thing in relation to child birth: the more natural your birth was, the better. Big chufty-badges all around to those who used no pain relief. A friend of mine broke down in tears when she admitted to us she had an epidural during her birth. I was horrified that she should be made to feel shame about such a thing!

As for breastfeeding though, I think you should be able to do whatever suits you as a mum, and not be made to feel guilty about it. There’s enough guilt and pain attached to motherhood as it is. There is a serious health consideration with the use of formula though. More research and education is definitely needed. I read this article when I was pregnant and it was enough to put me off formula (you can’t see the whole article, but you get the flavour from the opening).

Seek's avatar

@MissAusten you couldn’t be more right on. The day after my son was born, the nurses in the maternity ward were telling me I was breastfeeding him far too often, and he was going to end up using me as a pacifier, and I certainly didn’t want that! Of course they say this while loading my bags with formula samples from three different companies. Fortunately, my midwife had a good lactation consultant who did one free visit for each mother. I needed it, too.

jeanmay's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I wouldn’t have got through the first few days of breast feeding without the technical help and emotional support of the midwives and nurses in the hospital where I gave birth. If anything, they frowned on those who chose not to breast feed. God bless the NHS.

Adagio's avatar

@jeanmay I too definitely needed the assistance of ward nurses at the hospital in order to get the hang of breast-feeding, but once I was away I loved it and my daughter thrived.

MissAusten's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Most of the nurses I encountered in the hospital were great for breastfeeding support. There was one nurse though who said to me, after my 9 pound + son was born that I would have to supplement with formula because he was so big. I knew she was wrong, and just kind of nodded and smiled and went on my merry way!

casheroo's avatar

I think it’s crazy to rush children with anything regarding that. I think there’s rude people towards formula feeders (my first son was on formula because of a lot of misinformation on breastfeeding) and now my second son is breastfed, and it’s just so different. I told my own husband I might “self-wean” and my husband thinks past a year is too much…I have a lot of friends online who do it up until 2 years!
I won’t let anyone influence me. As long as I have a good supply, 1 year is the ultimate goal. Anything after is a definite bonus.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@CaptainHarley ” So the mommies can rush back to their jobs.” Ironic, that it is what a woman’s biological job, before building bridges anyhow. Guess “having it all” is passing on a valuable part of child rising.

@Seek_Kolinahr ” Because this society is so goddamned concerned with breasts as a sexual organ, they’d rather see a woman with gigantic fake tits feeding a squalling baby with a bottle, than see a woman nursing her toddler through teething molars.” Psst……haven’t you heard, in America at least nipples are evil. Even the impression of them under the clothes is enough to make most people get the heebee-jeebees.

@perspicacious ” Babies get their biggest benefit from breastfeeding in the first few months.” Personal belief or is there something you can point me to so I can do my due diligence? :-)

@Seek_Kolinahr @jeanmay ” has a 21 month old that just weaned. Himself.” ” I agree with @janbb, and just to add, my son went straight to drinking water from a cup once he had weaned himself, aged 11 months.” That kind of illustrates my point. Kids are not like washers with set cycles, when they get ready to get off onto solid stuff they will know, and if you have one reluctant I am sure there are ways to coax them off while having them think it is their idea.

@MissAusten ”My experience with many other moms is more like a competition to see who breastfed longest, like there’s some kind of award for nursing for two years or never having to give your baby a bottle of “artificial milk.” That is a different shift from the gals I have known and when I was way, way younger, it was “why is she/he still nursing and not on the bottle yet”.

Adagio's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central … when they are ready to get off on to solid stuff they will know…
Weaning is not synonymous with beginning to eat solid food, my daughter began eating solid food at 7 months of age but did not wean fully until 34 months. A child can still breast-feed and be eating solid food, they are not mutually exclusive. But maybe I am misinterpreting your statement…

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Adagio I was thinking more one the line when the child wants to eat more “big boy/girl” food like their siblingsa or parents maybe they will loose the appeal of breastfeeding on their own.

perspicacious's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Many of the studies of the protective effects of breastfeeding use the six-month mark as a cutoff. That means that researchers have found that nursing for at least six months has been shown to have protective effects against many illnesses, such as childhood cancers. http://www.storknet.com/cubbies/breast/AS-bfbenefits.htm

MissAusten's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central When babies start eating solid food, it gradually begins to replace nursing. For example, when my son was 15 months old, he only nursed first thing in the morning and then again right before I put him to bed. For the rest of the day, he ate regular food. It works the same way with bottle-fed infants. Once they start on solid food, that food gradually replaces the bottles as the child gets older until the bottle is stopped completely (weaning).

@perspicacious If every woman capable of exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months actually did it, that would be incredible. The first 6 months might be the cut-off point for studies, but a baby who is nursed longer still receives the mother’s immunities as well as many other benefits. http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html

Seek's avatar

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years. It’s only the United States that thinks it’s “icky” after one.

My son started eating solid foods at three months old. At five months, he literally ripped a cheeseburger out of my hands and went to town on it. At 20 months, he still nursed several times a day – first thing in the morning, when he woke up from nap, if he hit his head on something, if his teeth hurt, if he was having a “picky eater” day and was really hungry… I would totally rather my kid want some of Mama’s milk – which contains antibodies, calories, calcium, etc. – than be attached to some disgusting, germ-ridden pacifier or “blankie”. I don’t particularly have anything against blankies, but I’ve seen enough kids have friggin’ panic attacks while the blanket is in the washing machine… not what I want for my kid.

skfinkel's avatar

In this like so many other things in our society, you have to figure out for your (and in this case for your baby) what is right and then do it. Realizing that there will be forces against you if you do anything even slightly out of sinc with the rest of your peers. And look for the money behind the behavior—no one makes money when a mother nurses—so now we have pumps and all the bottles and plastic bags (good for you?) that that requires. In birth itself, there is much less money involved with a woman who has natural childbirth, so there are lots of ways to try and get a woman in a hospital to spend money on lots of equipment—and there will be many urging a birthing mother to use it all. If you see who stands to gain some money behind what they are asking you to do, you can figure out a lot of things.

Coloma's avatar

I think this issue is just another twist on the overall female competitive take towards most things.

I think there should be a solidarity amongst women based on our commonalities vs. differences, just like any well adjusted and relatively healthy human in any type of relationship.

Moms at home need to undesdtand that not every working mother is negligent in her care, and working moms need to understand that moms at home are not sitting on their ass eating bon bons and hiding from the world.

Same goes for breast feeding choices as well as bottle feeding.

I did both.

Aside from the health benefits ot the child, as long as that baby is being properly loved it’s really nobodys biz. how a child is fed, let alone how long they are nursed.

Same goes for potty training, 2, 3, 4…whatever…it all works out in the end.

Following some rigid protocol based on the child rearing flavor of the day is B.S.

My daughter had her bottle till she was 2½, wore a diaper at night till she was a little over 3, and sucked her thumb and slept with her ‘me-me’ ( blanket ) till she was 8!

No harm done, shes a well adjusted young woman now.

If I could count how many told me what I ‘should’ be doing…oh brother!

My fav. was some moron telling me I ‘should’ put Tabasco sauce on her thumb when she was 3.

Yeah…why don’t you put some Tabasco sauce in your mouth everytime you feel the need to give unsolicited advice! lol

Draconess25's avatar

@Coloma I’m 19. I still suck my thumb & have a blankie, & I wore GoodNites until I was 11, & I still enjoy drinking from a bottle occasionally. Only juice, though. Formula tastes nasty. How do babies stand that shit?

jeanmay's avatar

@Coloma I agree with you to some extent that it is nobody’s business how you choose to feed/raise your child. But in the case of formula versus breast milk, I’m afraid I do tend to judge. I think the main point is that formula is viewed by some as better or at least second best to breast milk. This is simply not the case. It is also marketed as more convenient, when breast milk clearly is the winner on that point too. Other women worry about the effects of breast feeding on their physical appearance, or have heard horror stories about how much breast feeding can hurt. I can say that it was terribly hard work to get established in the beginning, and I know those who experienced discomfort for the first few weeks due to cracked nipples. But the health benefits for your child out-weigh all those other worries. There should be better education available to women on the health benefits of breastfeeding, instead of allowing companies who produce formula to continue to perpetuate the myth that it is somehow the better choice for your child. Women who make the choice to use formula exclusively should be given the opportunity to make an informed choice. As such I think raising awareness of the benefits of breast milk is absolutely my business.

@Hypocrisy_Central There is so much pressure on women to do one thing or another as a parent. I would argue that the majority of this pressure actually comes from other women. (Indeed, perhaps I just proved that with the above post to @Coloma).! As @skfinkel points out, we also live in a world where corporate and media conglomerates have a large influence on our lives. The media does a great job of encouraging us to rely on our instincts as consumers first and human beings second. There is the impression these days that you buy a certain lifestyle when you buy a product.

wilma's avatar

@jeanmay my feelings exactly.
I am glad that there is formula out there as a good second choice for mothers.
But I do wish that that was what it really was, a second choice if for some reason breastfeeding, the clear first choice, was not an option.
I often wonder how some folks think humans survived all these centuries without concocted baby formula.

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